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This seminar focuses on the disciplinary formation of conservation science and scientific conservation in the post-World War II period. The seminar considers the post-World War II – period up to the 1970s when some conservation theorists, confronted with the processual and intangible aspects of contemporary art, questioned the dominance of conservation science and the principles of scientific conservation.
Event details of Histories of Conservation Science and Scientific Conservation after World War II
20 October 2023
09:00 -21:30
X-raying of Rembrandt's The Syndics in 1955, together with the Swedish art historian Carl Nordenfalk © Rijksmuseum.
X-raying of Rembrandt's The Syndics in 1955, together with the Swedish art historian Carl Nordenfalk © Rijksmuseum.

The focus of the seminar is on diverse actors, including scientists and science policymakers, collectors and conservators, museum professionals and administrators, and the institutional contexts in which these actors operated (e.g. museums, universities, laboratories, conservation studios).

This seminar is funded by the Descartes Centre (Utrecht University), Brill Publishers and NICAS.

Please note that seats are limited to 60 participants: as such, we ask you to only register if you definitely intend to come, and to contact us if you are no longer able to make it. Both in-person and online attendance are possible.

For any questions or other info, e-mail us at:


09:00 – 09:30


09:30 – 09:35 Welcome by Sven Dupré and Esther van Duijn
09:35 – 10:20 Thierry Ford, National Museum of Art

A Scandinavian Awakening : the Emergence of Science in Conservaon at the Naonal Gallery in Oslo (1956-1974)

Commentator: Ella Hendriks, University of Amsterdam

10:20 – 11:05 Ana Gonzalez Mozo, Prado Museum

The Role of the Trustees and the Direcon of the Museo del Prado in Guiding Restoraons and Scienfic Studies between 1940 and 1970

Commentator: Eveline Deneer, Utrecht University

11:05 – 11:30


Coffee/tea Break
11:30 – 12:15 Angela Cerasuolo, Capodimonte Museum

The Founding of the Capodimonte Museum in 1957 and the Creaon of its Conservaon Laboratory: Scienfic Conservaon and Restoraon in Naples in the Context of Post-war Italy

Commentator: Giulia de Vivo, Rijksmuseum

12:15 – 13:00 Leib Celnik, John Hopkins University

The Smithsonian Instuon and the Rise of the American Conservaon Laboratory Aer World War II

Commentator: Ernst Homburg, Maastricht University

13:00 – 14:00


Lunch break (on location for speakers and organizers)
14:00 – 14:45 Hero Lotti, independent researcher

The Foundaon of the Internaonal Instute for the Conservaon of Museum Objects (IIC) and the Fight for Scienfic Conservaon

Commentator: Geert Somsen, Maastricht University, VU University of Amsterdam

14:45 – 15:30 Marco Cardinali, Stockholm University, University of Valencia, National Autonomous University of Mexico

X-ray Imaging Techniques and the Quest for Reliable Insight into Painngs

Commentator: Ron Spronk, Radboud University, Queen’s University

15:30 – 16:00 Coffee/tea Break
16:00 – 16:45 Aga Wielocha, Bern Academy of the Arts

Art in Flux: Towards the Future of Conservaon

Commentator: Vivian van Saaze, Maastricht University, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

16:45 – 17:30


Noémie Étienne, University of Vienna

Global Conservaon: Missing Histories of Care

Commentator: Julie Deschepper, Utrecht University

17:30 – 17:40 Closing remarks
19:30 – 21:30 Conference dinner for speakers and organizers